On Aug. 1, Act 851, which limits local governments’ ability to regulate crypto mining centers, will take effect. The law was passed by the Arkansas Legislature during the 2023 legislative session.
In an interview with Arkansas PBS’ Arkansas Week, Sen. Brian King, R-Green Forest, and Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson shared concerns with the law.
After attending a meeting in Harrison and hearing residents voice their frustrations with the local mining center, King said that he regrets voting for the bill.
“As we’ve seen now, we don’t know much about these crypto facilities, unfortunately from the backend. It’s kind of like we’re chasing the rabbit, after the legislature let a bill out that they should not. We should have given it more debate,” King said.
King said the bill was introduced at the end of the legislative session and that is why the bill was rushed through.
While listening to residents of Harrison, King said one of the complaints from the residents was the amount of noise the mining centers make. In his county, Dodson said there is a similar problem with noise complaints.
“I would describe it [the noise] as a jet airliner at idle on the tarmac at the airport,” Dodson said.
Prior to having a mining center in the county, Dodson said county officials were not aware mining centers produced this amount of noise.
King said another concern with the mining centers have to do with the amount of electricity needed to power them.
“These things use a tremendous amount of energy. A 10 megawatt facility in a crypto mine that only employs two or three people that’s enough to power 7,000 homes. We have to have the debate if it’s really an economic benefit,” King said.
Dodson said Act 851 has made it difficult for local governments to deal with the issues caused by crypto mining centers.
“I’m not sure what the mindset of the legislature was putting a deadline on our local government being counties and cities’ abilities to regulate that, but it was enough of an issue that you saw a wave of counties and cities rushing to pass local ordinances to control it as best they can,” he said.
Dodson added that the ordinances passed by cities are a “stopgap” and that the legislature is needed to address the issue. King has called for a special session to address the issue. He said he hasn’t had a conversation with Gov. Sarah Sanders, Republican, about calling a special session about the issue.
In Arkansas, crypto mining centers have been built in Greenbrier and Harrison. In June, city officials in Vilonia halted plans to build a crypto mining center.